In November 2015, Sherry McAllister, DC, MS(ED), CCSP, was named executive vice president of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP), and became the first doctor of chiropractic appointed to lead the F4CP’s efforts to gain positive press.
We thought that now, six months into her new position, would be a good time to catch up with her and learn about her plans for the future.
A larger platform
McAllister was giving a talk a few years ago at a corporate onsite chiropractic clinic and, during that visit, she realized that although giving talks to small audiences was effective, she could accomplish a great deal more if she could get her insights about chiropractic health out to a larger audience on a wider scale. This naturally led her to approach the F4CP, who readily accepted when she volunteered her services. “As I started to work with the Foundation, I found it was easier to reach a broader audience,” McAllister says.
Promoting positive press
As the executive vice president of the F4CP, McAllister’s position includes developing services that can assist the doctor of chiropractic in practice as well as developing areas in which the Foundation can build on its mission of promoting positive press about chiro- practic for consumers. “And to develop educational materials to go out in the field,” she says. “One critical component is to educate the consumer and assist DCs in doing that.”
She also notes the Gallup-Palmer College of Chiropractic report released in 2015. “That study helped us learn what the consumer doesn’t know. For example, DCs have seven years of education but most consumers think it is just two—so the consumer needs to be educated and have greater confidence in what we do.”
A 21st century malady
The first major initiative McAllister championed was to promote awareness of “text neck” (sometimes called “tech neck”).
“The reason for text neck is Silicon Valley. We see a number of children in our practice under the age of 14, and we watch young patients in the waiting room or waiting for their parents and see them staring down at their cell phones.”
Her own son is in high school, and she notes that the schools are spending millions of dollars on information technology but ignoring education about the consequences of using handheld devices improperly. “For the first time in history, our youth will spend the majority of their time without textbooks throughout their school career. I think what’s equally important in the utilization of these technology devices is that parents and teachers can be extraordinarily effective in teaching better posture, stretching, taking breaks, and practicing good hygiene,” McAllister says. “I think we’re going to be developing further materials as the problem isn’t going away.”
Her hope is that as communities grow more aware of the issue, they’ll be able to help one another learn to prop phones up and change the orientation of the neck. “But the people who don’t know about this yet, they don’t know how the tendons respond to the stress posture caused by improper phone use,” she says.
Pain in practice
There’s no question that some of the most common kinds of patients DCs see in practice are those who are in pain. “It’s not the only thing we see, but it’s often what brings patients in our doors. It’s an important topic because most people don’t know what we do and instead they get an opioid medication, but it doesn’t necessarily relieve pain and can become addictive.”
McAllister points to the epidemic of opioid use, misuse, and abuse. “It’s important to think outside ourselves and bring our message to the masses who are suffering and in pain. And a big part of that is the chiropractic approach to pain management.”
The Foundation in turn prepared a white paper that explains how dangerous opioids are, and how in some circumstances they can change the normal chemistry in the body. “In my mind and in the Foundation’s view, chiropractic is positioned is an outstanding option for those who have chronic neck or back pain. Our providers need to educate patients that before they try opioids, they should try chiropractic first.” The position paper, authored by a multidisciplinary team, is available at: f4cp.com/f4cp_opioid_white_paper.pdf.
McAllister notes that this type of approach, which digests technical and academic information to make it broadly applicable to the community at large, is a prime example of how the Foundation serves chiropractic. “DCs look for imbalances and ways to improve overall health. They are trained in this, but they aren’t necessarily able to effectively get the message out. That’s where the Foundation can make a difference.”
From promotion to prevention
Another initiative McAllister works on is the TIPS program (Toward Injury Prevention in Sports). “We’ve added the TIPS website at tips4sports.org, where you’ll able to see our new tips for consumers. It’s a fantastic way to reach patients in the sports arena.”
She recently participated in a concussion program at Life University, where she spoke on safety and prevention. “The doctors took away a lot. They need to know how being on the field is different from working in the office.”
The Foundation will continue to offer TIPS certification online, and McAllister notes they are fielding requests daily from people asking for a DC who can give a community presentation. “We think this program is doing a great job working with youth all the way up to collegiate sports.
Outside sponsorship remains critically important, as it will help us get more resources to extend the program.”
One of the next projects McAllister will be promoting is the Foundation’s Social Media Accelerator. “It is one of the largest reaches we’ve done yet. It’s an email that goes to our members, and they can post it to their Facebook or Twitter feeds with the click of a button. It educates the DC through the latest research, but it’s easily written for the consumer who can also post it to their sites right away.”
She notes that the Social Media Accelerator content, such as info- graphics and video, often goes viral and, with almost 13,000 members, millions of views are possible on a regular basis.
One more effort McAllister supports is the need to grow Foundation membership.
She notes that every DC benefits from the Foundation’s activities, so there’s no reason why a DC shouldn’t join. “Members support our work to generate positive press for chiropractic, and every dollar contributed goes toward increased marketing and education—that’s the key; we can’t do it alone. We’re grateful to everyone who supports our mission.”
If you’re not yet a member of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, it’s easy to sign up online at f4cp.com/pledge.